The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

The above Dilbert strip unfortunately is true of so many places that I have worked for. Time and time again I would see expensive consultants hired to improve operations, when employees themselves had many great ideas that were ignored.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal  research by Alan G. Robinson, a professor at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, the average U.S. employee’s ideas, big or small, are implemented only once every six years!

Employees who are engaged and encouraged to contribute ideas can be a tremendous asset to any organization. IdeasAmerica, an association for “suggestion administrators,” who manage suggestion submissions, surveyed 31 of its 125 members last year. The study found that submitted ideas saved respondents more than $110 million dollars in time, materials, labor or energy, an average of $1,256 per suggestion.

Toyota’s success as a company is in part due to its ability to engage employees who contribute ideas on how to improve operations. According to the book All You Gotta Do Is Ask by Chuck Yorke and Norman Bodek, Toyota implements an average of nine ideas per employee per year.

Any organization whether in government, non-profit or the private sector needs to create a culture where employee ideas are encouraged. Culture typically starts at the top, sadly from my experience many elected officials and CEOs are too insecure to empower employee contributions. Dilbert makes the point all too well.

What do you think?